FIFA World Cup: Key battles of Netherlands vs Argentina clash
As the two football powerhouses – Netherlands and Argentina clash tonight, we look at where tonight's semi-final will be won or lost
Robin van Persie vs Martin Demichelis
Striker Van Persie will be eager to end his record of never having scored in the knockout stages of a major international tourney, and will find himself up against an Argentina defence that could be marshalled by Demichelis. Against Costa Rica in the quarter-finals, Van Persie and his fellow attackers were unable to breach a packed opposition defence.
Arjen Robben vs Marcos Rojo
Robben is one of the most dangerous wingers in the game, thanks to his terrifying pace on the ball. For Argentina, Rojo is available again after suspension and seems certain to return at left-back. He’s been arguably Argentina’s best defender at the competition so far, but he has not yet come up against an opponent of Robben’s quality.
Wesley Sneijder vs Javier Mascherano
Sneijder has been a prominent player in Van Gaal’s midfield thanks to his creativity as well as his willingness to go for goal himself. In opposition to Sneijder, Mascherano patrols in front of the Argentina defence. While his passing ability should not be underestimated, he adds the grit in the middle of the park and will look to stop Sneijder from playing.
Dutch defence vs Lionel Messi
Van Gaal has favoured a three-man central defence so far, and if he sticks with that system the Dutch should have the numbers to cope with Messi as well as Gonzalo Higuain and whoever else lines up in attack for Argentina. However, they lack a world class centre-back, and the absence of the injured Nigel de Jong deprives the Dutch of much-needed bite deep in midfield.